Hogan announces Maryland mobile virus strike forces

BALTIMORE — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon the formation of mobile strike forces to fight the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes and similar facilities throughout the state.

He was speaking from the Baltimore Convention Center, which he had just toured with other officials. The site is being converted into a temporary hospital, with 250 beds, for recovering coronavirus patients.

This and other care centers will help relieve hospitals of part of their workload, as they focus on treating the most seriously ill victims of COVID-19. The Convention Center site is nearly ready to receive patients as an expected surge in cases approaches.

“We’re ahead of schedule,” Gov. Hogan said. The work there involved several organizations, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Guard, the state’s Department of General Services, Johns Hopkins Health Services and University of Maryland Medical Services (UMMS).

“Over the past two weeks, I have been sounding the alarm,” Gov. Hogan said. “We have succeeded in convincing the Trump administration to consider the state a priority.”

FEMA has sent 200 ventilators to Maryland. “I want to sincerely thank the Trump administration,” Gov. Hogan said.

While general preparations are made for the surge’s peak, which projections show could occur as soon as 10 days from Tuesday, specific attention is being placed on nursing homes, which the governor said is his top concern. More than 90 nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Maryland have developed clusters of positive cases.

The state’s response has been to form the strike forces, which will be equipped to travel to the homes, evaluate the risk, supply personnel and materials, and help with treatment. The Maryland National Guard is taking part in this effort.

“We’re the first in the nation to activate such a coordinated effort,” Gov. Hogan said.

Director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health Tom Inglesby M.D. shared information on the need for social distancing to reduce the peak of the infection surge.

“On average, a person can infect two to three others,” if social distancing is not practiced, he said.

He noted encouraging signs in the state, which saw a decrease in the rate of infection from Monday morning.

“Under your leadership, Maryland is a safer state,” University of Maryland Medical Systems’ Incident Commander Dr. David Marcozzi said, speaking to the governor. “Now is the time for readiness.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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